Breathtaking Places to Catch a Maui Sunset
From the summit of Haleakalā to the beaches in Kāʻanapali, here’s where to venture for magical golden hour views on the Valley Isle.
As the sun sets over the Pacific, Maui’s sky turns into a fiery canvas. Off the beach, calm, glassy waters shimmer with vibrant shades of red and orange. From the mountains, lucky observers watch as the magic hour casts its spell over the Valley Isle, and from a delightful seaside restaurant, diners feast their eyes as lavender hues paint a sky now streaked with cotton candy-colored clouds. No matter where you are on Maui, it’s a remarkable sight. See it for yourself; here are a few of our favorite spots to watch from.
Great Maui beaches to watch the sunset
You can’t go wrong watching the sun sink below the horizon from any of Maui’s beautiful beaches. But for some of the most spectacular views, the west and south shores of the island are where it’s at. On the west side, Kāʻanapali Beach is one of the island’s jewels, with 3 miles of white sand and aquamarine water. As the sun sets, the colorful sky isn’t the only spectacle. Every evening, a diver runs along the cliffs of Puʻu Kekaʻa, or Black Rock, lighting torches leading up to a thrilling dive from the cliff. And not far from Kāʻanapali Beach is Kapalua Bay. At this cove, the views at sunset also include Molokaʻi—the Friendly Isle, about 12 miles away—as well as playful whales in the winter.
On Maui’s southern shore, Mākena, aka Big Beach, is a popular spot among residents and visitors, from sunrise to sunset. The beach is nestled between two lava outcroppings that shield beachgoers from any heavy winds. From the sand, you’ll spot the crescent-shaped Molokini crater just a couple of miles offshore, and the uninhabited island of Kahoʻolawe. In the final hour of daylight, the sun casts a mesmerizing glow over this side of the island. Keawakapu, also along Maui’s sunny south side, is a much-loved beach and it’s not uncommon to find people there from dawn until dusk, too. Keawakapu is a great spot to watch a breathtaking sunset without the long drive to Mākena.
(Visitors to Mākena State Park pay for parking at the parking lot kiosks. For more information, visit dlnr.hawaii.gov/dsp/parks/maui/makena-state-park.)
Where to watch the sunset in Upcountry Maui
Watching the sun’s rays disappear over the Pacific from a beach is incredible, but so is watching it from 10,000 feet above sea level. From the highest point on the Valley Isle—which is the summit of Haleakalā, a dormant volcano—you can watch as wispy clouds erupt in orange and red. Glance down and you’ll see night falling peacefully on the island. Watching the sun set from the summit of Haleakalā is certainly a breathtaking experience and so are the moments after the sun disappears. At twilight, the sky turns indigo, and shimmering stars blanket the sky, and you’re sure to see at least a planet or two, too.
For those who aren’t up for the drive to the summit of Haleakalā, consider visiting Sun Yat-sen Park. Situated high on the slopes of Haleakalā, but well short of the summit, the park is a little-known locale. Drivers often make it to Grandma’s Coffee House and Kula Country Farms, then turn back around before reaching this green space. Or they zip by on the way to the island’s winery. With so few visitors, Sun Yat-sen Park is an idyllic place to set up a picnic or just take in the sweeping views of Kīhei, Wailea and neighboring islands in solitude.
Maui restaurants with spectacular ocean views at sunset
Sipping on a cocktail and sharing a meal with friends and loved ones is even better with a sunset and the Pacific Ocean as your backdrop. Fortunately, the Valley Isle is dotted with crowd-pleasing restaurants offering front-row seats to the spectacle. Huihui, the Kāʻanapali Beach Hotel’s signature restaurant, was designed so that everyone in every seat in the place has a view of the ocean. Located in Lahaina and loved for its romantic ambience, Pacific’o on the Beach offers guests a dining experience just steps from the sea. Diners can enjoy dishes made with local ingredients, sip on creative cocktails and watch as the sun sets over Lahaina. And just down the road you’ll find the ever popular Star Noodle. There, you can slurp noodles and shoot back sake on the seaside patio.